Seventeen years ago, when she was 73 years old, Helen Gurley Brown got a pair of breast implants. “The fact is, if you're not a sex object, that's when you have to worry,” she said in an interview with the Washington Post in 1996. “To be desired sexually, in my opinion, is about the best thing there is.”
Gurley Brown, the longtime editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine who died Tuesday at the age of 90, lived her entire life according to the controversial manual she penned in 1962, “Sex and the Single Girl,” even as a married woman. When Post reporter Roxanne Roberts interviewed her as she transitioned out of her leadership at Cosmo, she found that both Gurley Brown’s looks and her ambition showed no sign of slowing down at an advanced age.
Gurley also spoke of her work ethic, and her quote holds true: “My husband and I both think that when you retire, you die,” she said. Though she ceded her position to Bonnie Fuller in 1997, she stayed on as the manager of Cosmo’s international editions until her death. She remained childless by choice — the magazine was her baby.
Though Cosmo’s image has been criticized in recent years for being superficial and too focused on pleasing your man, Gurley Brown’s Cosmo came from a place of freedom and empowerment.
“I believe most 20-year-old women think they're not pretty enough, smart enough, they don't have enough sex appeal, they don't have the job they want, they've still got some problems with their family,” she says. ”All that raw material is there to be turned into something wonderful. I just think of my life. If I can do it, anybody can. You just have to find something that you're kind of good at.”